The FreeMiniMac has arrived and will the fun ever start?
http://macminis.freepay.com was NOT a lie my friends. You wondered, what's Hanselman doing with that Free Mini Mac banner on his site? Well, it arrived today and it's the bomb. It was free and I didn't even have to pay shipping. I want to thank everyone who signed up with the program to help me get the Mac, and I hope you get yours also!
Here's the specs:
- 1.42GHz PowerPC G4
- 512MB DDR333 SDRAM
- 80GB hard drive
- ATI Radeon 9200 with 32MB DDR video memory
- DVD/CD-RW combo drive
- Integrated AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth capability
- DVI or VGA video output
- Mac OS X Tiger, iLife 2005 software
- 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall
- Weighs only 2.9 lbs
I'll probably double the memory, and I've got at least three firewire drives I could use if I needed to, but it integrated so nicely with my network I may not bother. It's a pretty amazing and tiny little thing, this Mini Mac.
- The OOBE (out of box experience) as with all things Apple, is amazing. Completely. The box, the plastic, the manuals, hell, the foam - everything is pristine, clean and classy.
- I grabbed an old USB mouse and keyboard, and plugged it into my Dell 20". During the setup wizard it asked if I had an Apple ID, so I entered my iTunes credentials. At this point it hadn't even asked about the Internet. Seems like a small thing, but it's a nice detail. After entering my Apple ID it (of course) knew everything about me. It set the time, my timezone, my user name. All I did was enter a password and I was at a usable desktop.
- I didn't realize until I re-read the specs that wireless was built in. I gave it my SSID and WEP details and I was on the wireless, which allowed me to remove the ethernet cable I'd stolen from my wife's machine. I noticed also that IPv6 was installed by default. Bluetooth is also built in, so I may pickup a wireless/bluetooth Apple Keyboard and Mouse.
- ASIDE: For Windows XP, Microsoft will be sneaking IPv6 onto your machines during the installation of the new WinFX .NET Class Libraries.
- I poked around in the System Preferences and noticed that it not only had identified my Dell 2001FP monitor, but it had already applied the correct color profile.
- The machine is totally silent which is awesome compared to the jet engine that is my Pentium 4.
- Screen rotation is just built in...this is still something we have to look to the Display Driver people on the Windows side.
- Printer and File sharing JUST WORKS. I shared my Mac Desktop and my Windows Desktop. However, I ended up just using FolderShare for synchronization (see below.)
Here's the dirty little secret. If you want to do ANYTHING even remotely interesting on Mac OS 10.4, you have to shatter the illusion and start messing around in *nix. It took me 20 minutes to remember how to edit my .bash_profile to add a path to the MANPATH using VI. I couldn't figure out how to get the Finder to show hidden files. It's like someone has put a Ferrari engine in one of those Fisher Price plastic cars that you push with your feet.
Applications I started with
- I've got a copy of Mac Office 2004 that I picked up at the Microsoft Company Store so I've got the Word, Excel, etc stuff covered. But the real reason I wanted this Mac was to build Mono applications. More specifically I wanted to work on the DasBlog port to Mono. I believe DasBlog 1.6 is ported to Mono already, but now that MSBUILD can build Mono apps I thought it'd be nice to get the current DasBlog (and any future versions or derivatives) running on Mono.
I went to former-college-software-engineering-each-bought-Newtons-on-opening-day-sit-next-to-guy Steven Frank's uber-famous Panic and downloaded everything they offer. Panic personifies all things Mac and all things Portland, Oregon. They are decorated and awarded. I got Unison (USENET) and Transmit (FTP) as well as all the lil' apps.
FolderShare - just when I thought it couldn't kick more ass, it does. I installed the Mac version and boom, my "Shared Desktop" lives on.
Mono for Mac. Installing it is easy, as is most all graphical installers on Mac. Installers download as mountable "disk images" with all the schmutz inside. Safari, the Mac's default browser, starts installing as soon as you give the OK. They are all the same interface. It's damn-near ClickOnce in its behavior. Pretty slick. However, the Mono Mac installer just installs the libraries, and not even the graphical ones for real application development. All this took me 3 hours. Notice that I haven't even gotten mysql or apache or Mono's ASP.NET support installed. We'll see how XSP/Mod_mono works. However, for regular development you have to:
Install Fink, a porting and distribution system for Unix Open Source software on Mac OS X
Update fink via CVS (yes, it's getting scary now)
Update fink to unstable by modifying fink.config
Update all fink's core packages
Install Apple's X11 support from the Optional Packages stuff on the Tiger DVD (interesting that X11 isn't installed by default.
Install ghome and gtkhtml3 via fink. MaxOS X has its own GUI stuff in the form of Aqua and Cocoa but since Mono builds against GTK# and there's no total package to bridge the ginormous gap you have to do this dance.
Build all this from source...woof.
Add a bunch of paths and goo to your path and environment.
Get Monodoc, gecko-sharp, gtksourceview-sharp.
It's really amazing what this thing can do with only 512M of RAM. I have been pounding on it and it just keeps on running.
- From what I can see, Mono .NET development on a Mac is years away from even Visual Studio 2002. It's just brutal. I'll plan on doing my development using Mono on Windows and copying the results over. We'll see how that works out.
- I'm tried using XCode and Mono to see if that's better. I was able to get XCode to build a Mono .NET exe and run it using a custom Makefile, but I wasn't able to get the error recognition to work. Of course, without a debugger it's a step back.
- NOTE: The screenshot above is XCode using the custom makefile. The output is in the Run Log in the upper corner. The syntax highlighting in XCode for C# is actually just the Java syntax highlighter.
- Maybe I've turned into a Microsoft whore (more than even you think) but even though I started out in C, worked on Palm in C, worked on Unix in Java, worked on device drivers in C, using C (even Objective-C) on Mac for development seems like SUCH a step back.
- Can one of you who is a Mac developer share what development on a Mac is really like? How productive is the guy who wrote NetNewsWire? I guess I should go visit Panic and get a tour. I mean, for crying out loud, I was out in malloc/free world while trying to think about parsing XML streaming in over the net. Maybe Garbage Collection rots the mind?
Things I'm Not Sure About
- What Mac application is best for Remote Desktop-like behavior from a Windows Client? Is it just VNC?
- NOTE: To the right is a shot of me VNC'ing into the Mac while writing this very post.
- What Mac/Windows thing could I get that would act as a software KVM, so that when I move my mouse to the right of my Windows machine it would start controlling the Mac?
- When is installing Mono on a Mac going to suck way less? (which is argubly a Linux/*nix question more than it's a Mac question.)
Now playing: P Money & Scribe - Stop the Music (Featuring Scribe)